How To Use Dog Grooming Clippers

June 8, 2022 // 12 minute read

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Grooming your dog involves lots of processes – bathing, brushing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, teeth cleaning, and, depending on the breed, trimming and clipping of coats. Going to a professional groomer to have your dog clipped can be quite expensive for most dog owners, which is why they learn how to cut their dog’s coat on their own. But have you wondered how to use dog grooming clippers? 

However, for beginners, clipping your dog’s coats is not easy, and if you’re not careful enough, you might accidentally hurt your dog. Knowing how to use dog grooming clippers properly is very important, and that’s exactly what we’re going to share with you below. 

Related article: How To Choose Dog Grooming Clippers

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Easy Tips To Make Clipping Your Dog Easier

During the clipping process, the safety of your dog depends on how you use the clipper and the blade you use. Clipper blades come in different lengths, and the first thing you should know is which blade to use in a specific area. 

Typically, the smaller the blades, the longer the hair it leaves on your dog’s skin. For example, blade #3 will leave about ½ inches of hair while blade #50 will leave 1/125 inches of hair on your dog. 

Professional groomers use different blade lengths in different body areas of the dog. So, usually, you might have to use about 2-4 blades in just one dog, and if it is your first time, this can be overwhelming. 

Also, using a blade with a higher number can be scary, but it’s inevitable. Here are some great techniques you can apply to make dog clipping easier: 

1. Place the tip of the blade against the skin with the back up at an angle. If you’re using a shorter blade, you might need to create a bigger angle. This will make clipping smoother but make sure that you don’t allow the blade to go along the skin as this might cut your dog. You can also gently pull the skin flat to allow the blade to run smoothly. 

2. Always go with the direction the hair is growing for a more natural look. Going against this direction will only result in more chop marks and lines which are not very clean to look at. 

3. If you’re not comfortable doing finishing touches, then do a shorter cut for your dog. By using a longer blade or comb, the more scissoring you would have to do to give your dog a much cleaner look. 

4. Blade number tips.

  • To shave a thick-coated dog, shave it short by using a #10 or #7FC blade. We recommend shaving underneath that thick coat than shaving right through it. 
  • For shaving the coat on your dog’s head, use a blade that is two sizes longer than the blade you used for the body to make everything look proportioned. For example, you used blade #5 for your dog’s body, which means you should use blade #3 on your dog’s head. 
  • Use a #10 blade when shaving sanitary areas, armpits, or in front of the eyes. 

5. Use a cooling spray if the clipper starts to heat up. A hot blade will burn your dog, and you don’t want that to happen. 

These are very helpful techniques that will also ensure your dog’s safety. You can ask for other tips and recommendations from a professional groomer or experienced dog owners, but these are the basic ones you should definitely try out. 

Related article: Best Dog Brush for Short Hair, 2022 Buying Guide

How To Use Dog Grooming Clippers: 10 Steps

Now that you have familiarized yourself with some great techniques, it’s time to tackle how to clip your dog’s coat. For us, having a pattern really helps. This won’t confuse your dog, and in the long term, they’ll be more comfortable with how the grooming process goes. 

1. Prepare the area where you’re clipping your dog. Make sure you have the tools ready – your dog clipper, cooling spray, clipper oil, clipper blades, clipper comb, etc. 

Keep these things within your reach and make sure it’s complete. This way, you won’t have to keep on going back and forth looking for these things, prolonging the grooming process, which can be stressful for your dog. 

Added to that, make sure that your dog is comfortable. You have a non-slip mat, the table is at a comfortable height, and there are fewer distractions. If you think there are no problems with your area, you can now start grooming

2. Brush your dog’s coat. This will help ensure that there are no tangles and mats that will make the grooming process harder.

3. Start at one side and clip from the top of the head. Not focusing on two sides will help ensure that you’ll be able to clip your dog evenly. 

Have your dog stand or lay down still as you clip from the top of their head to their neck, their shoulders, under their ear, their chin, their throat, then finally, down the chest. 

4. Clip down the front legs. Ensure that you’re gentle in doing this as you can easily cut your dog because this is a thin area. 

You will need to raise your dog’s legs while doing this so you can also clip the shoulder area as this can mat up easily. Finally, run the clipper down the legs to the paw but be very careful that you don’t hit your dog’s dewclaw. 

5. Clip your dog’s back then down to the side of their body. You might need to lift your dog’s legs again to reach the chest area underneath your dog’s belly. 

6. Clip your dog’s hind leg area. Same with the front legs, you need to be very gentle in handling this dog part, too. It’s thin, and unlike the front legs, it might be hard to maneuver around here to clip your dog in this area. 

If you’re having a hard time, you can let your dog flip to show his belly, so it’s easier for you to reach the hard areas. Don’t clip when you’re in an awkward position as you might only end up hurting your dog. 

7. Clip down the tail area. Clear the area around the anal first, and if you can, it’s probably better to clip the other hind leg too before you proceed to the next leg. 

8. Proceed to clip down the anal and tummy area. Change the blades to #10, so you have a very short cut. Hold the tail up, so you have easy access, then start clipping then down to the backside. 

Next is the tummy area. You can flip your dog to make this easier so you won’t be in an awkward position. You can use a shorter blade if you’re afraid that you will nip the skin. Blade #10 will be perfect if your dog has mats. 

Now you’re done on the first side. 

9. Time to proceed on the other side by following the same process. This will give you an even cut throughout. 

10. Finally, do some finishing touch-ups with scissors to give your dog an even cleaner look. Brush down the coat to remove any loose hair. 

And that’s it!

For others, they start in untidy areas so they can analyze how much hair the clipper blade can take off. You might also need to adjust the blades if the length is not the ones you want. However, be very careful not to shave too close to the skin as this will cause razor burn. 

I know this may sound easy, but as you start the grooming process, your dog might tend to move around. If it’s your first time doing this, this is expected as your dog is not yet used to it. It will take months or years before you get your dog to stay still. 

That’s why apart from knowing how to groom your dog properly, we are also sharing other things that will help your dog get used to the whole grooming process. 

dog with shampoo on head
Photo by nishizuka on

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Things To Remember When Grooming Your Dogs With Clipper

Start Grooming Early

This is the best advice that I think you should really follow. Starting dog grooming early will help your dog get accustomed to the routine. You’ll have plenty of time to discover things he likes and doesn’t, and you can adjust accordingly. 

As time goes by, they will develop trust, and by the time they mature, grooming is faster and smoother. 

Make Sure You’re Using The Right Tools

To start, you need to be using the right set of tools to make dog clipping easier. You’ll usually need a clipper, a comb, a slick brush, clipper blades, and more. Make sure to choose the ones that are of high quality and are guaranteed by other dog groomers. 

Research will really help you here. You can search from google, ask your vet, or ask a professional groomer directly. We also have a guide here on our page about how to choose the right dog grooming clipper, which might help you too. 

Make Sure The Blade Is Sharp

You might think that a sharp blade is scary for your dog. Well, not quite. A sharp blade will run through your dog’s skin easily, so you don’t have to repeat getting through it again. At the same time, you’ll be able to ensure a cleaner cut throughout. 

Find Ways To Help Your Dog Relax

Dog grooming clippers tend to vibrate and create loud noises, which can cause stress to your dog. As much as possible, find a dog grooming clipper that creates less of this, so your dog feels at ease. 

If your dog is stressed because they’re too high up the table, then maybe clip their coat as they are lying on the floor. If your dog is uncomfortable because the floor is slippery, place a non-slip mat. 

You’re the one who knows your dog best, so you should be the one to understand what they are stressed about and what would make them calm down. The calmer your dog, the smoother and faster dog grooming will be.

wet dog in bath tub
Photo by Benjamin Lehman on

Understand What Your Breed Should Look Like

If you have a purebred dog, you must understand what they should look like. You can’t just clip your dog’s hair as you please. There are standards that you need to follow. We recommend researching more about your dog. Going to a professional groomer for the right grooming tips for that specific dog breed is also advisable. 

Why You Should Groom Your Dog

Grooming your dog doesn’t only involve clipping the coat. It’s the whole process – bathing, brushing, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth cleaning. 

Now, you might think this is too much to do for one dog and wonder why it’s even necessary. It is very important if you want your dog to look good and continue to be healthy. Here are a few consequences if you don’t groom your dog: 

  1. Allergies: Dogs get allergies, too, and not only to a particular food. Sometimes dogs get allergic to outside elements, and this will cause irritation. By giving them baths, you’ll be able to wash out those elements, so your dog doesn’t get any rashes. 
  1. Parasites: Ticks and fleas will irritate your dog, too, and this will lead to them scratching their skin. This may also lead to secondary diseases brought by bacteria and dirt that entered the skin through that cut. By shaving or clipping your dog’s coat, you will be able to easily see and remove these parasites that are disturbing your dog. 
  1. Yeast or Bacterial Infections: Moisture build-up from the wrinkled areas of dog breeds like the Pug, Boxer, Bulldog, etc. may also lead to infection. Regularly cleaning up those folds with wet wipes or towels and keeping them dry is necessary for these breeds. 
  1. Abrasions and Cuts: As mentioned above, scrapes and cuts caused by allergies and dog scratching may lead to an even bigger problem. Yes, you may fear causing this to your breed through clipping, which is why we put great emphasis on ensuring your dog’s safety. 
  1. Dry Skin: Flaky skin is the best indication that your dog’s skin is dry, and this should never happen. When your dog’s skin is dry, this means that there is an underlying health condition that needs to be attended to. 

All these things will cause pain and discomfort to your dog, which is why we put great emphasis on the importance of dog grooming, particularly taking care of your dog’s coat. 


Dog grooming with clippers isn’t really applicable for all breeds. Dogs with smooth coats don’t need this, but you should still apply other grooming tasks such as bathing and brushing. For dogs with heavier coats, remember to apply the techniques above to make the whole process smoother and faster. 

Always remember to have patience, as this is not an easy task to do. Don’t rush and make sure that you’re learning something new in every session.

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